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NSW abattoir's cruelty sickening: court

Fri 31 May 2013 by AAP (The Australian)

This article relates to the following facility: Hawkesbury Valley Meats (Aussie Abattoirs)

A SYDNEY abattoir has been hit with a $60,000 fine for treating animals in a sickening and grossly inhumane manner.

Hidden-camera footage emerged in February last year showing livestock that were conscious being brutally bashed with poles and slashed with knives at the Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors, in Sydney's northwest.

One worker was seen bleeding out a pig that hadn't been properly stunned.

When the pig continued to kick violently, it was repeatedly bashed with a metal pipe.

An inadequately stunned goat was subjected to a prolonged decapitation and a stockman deliberately used an electric jigger on a bull, and the animal behind it, even though they couldn't move to escape the shocks.

In February the meat processor pleaded guilty to five charges of animal cruelty relating to sheep, pigs, cattle and goats processed in January and February of 2012.

In Windsor Local Court on Thursday, magistrate Margot Stubbs ordered the company to pay a $60,000 fine, telling the court the acts of cruelty were "sickening" and at the "gross end of inhumane conduct".

The footage prompted the government to shut the facility temporarily and launch reforms to safeguard animal welfare in NSW.

It's now compulsory for NSW abattoirs to have animal welfare officers monitor and take responsibility for the wellbeing of animals.

Random audits of their compliance with animal welfare rules have also been ramped up.

Shortly after the video emerged, Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors said casual staff involved in the cruelty had been sacked and permanent staff allocated to other duties.